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Monday, September 08, 2008

Takahashi's Red Ring Report

I can't recommend Dean Takahashi's Xbox 360 defects: an inside history of Microsoft’s video game console woes enough. It's an excellent overview of what is, I don't mean this in any sensational manner - Dean comes to the same conclusion, one of the biggest hardware blunders in gaming history.

Read his stuff for the rundown. I think the entire tale is interesting in hindsight. For one thing, it's an amazing testament to the brand loyalty of some, if not most, 360 gamers. I've pointed out previously the American media's ability to whip Sony repeatedly for things Microsoft was given a free pass on - specifically delays and supply problems. When Microsoft couldn't get units in the store priotr to the holidays the blogosphere mood was "wait till next year." Sony wasn't treated quite so kindly.

As Sony ramped up to launch, the amount of FUD the Internet was willing to dish out on the console was moderately astounding. I honestly think this is a cultural thing. Microsoft, even though geeks love to bash them, is an American company. They speak to us in a way we understand. Sony, on the other hand, has a hard time not coming off as arrogant and weird. Microsoft is extremely savvy about using this to their advantage.

But looking at the RROD problems - it's interesting to wonder how two of the key factors of console could have played out. Specifically how much should the 360 have cost and when should it have been released? Honestly I still shake my head that the console costs what it does and lacks WiFi. But imagine how much more it might cost if Microsoft had to confirm it would still work in a year.

And I'm sure you 360 fanboys are sharpening knives about now. You can save it. You can take some assurance that Microsoft has at least shored up one of the most impressive game libraries to help combat one of the worst hardware designs. If Dean's article proves anything else - it shows that great software will get people to deal with hardware woes.

I guess console gaming really has become more like PC gaming.

Edit: Just a side note. A lot of outlets are describing this as "a retrospective". Technically that's inaccurate as new 360's are still getting the old RROD.

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